Friday 13 June 2008


I'm in recovery mode from the TNNA show. Lots of talking, smiling, celebrity spotting, and tooting our own horn (which is harder to do than it should be I suppose). But the activity I work at hardest for most of the show weekend is Listening. I have mentioned before that this is an industry show where shop owners can come and place orders, see what's coming up for the fall season and chat with their suppliers. But for 1 hour on Friday evening (before the show opens) the shop owners can buy 1 item from participating vendors. We, as vendors, are given a 6' table and are allowed to sell 2 different new items. It is a frenzy. At the January show we totally bombed. But I learned that if you have the wrong item the shop owners will tell you why it's wrong. We had a kit which was too big a project to knit up and the wrong colour. So this time we had a baby sweater kit with a pattern out of the Baby V booklet - small, and 2 colours, orange or blue - bright. It seemed to work and the shop owners now have a pattern they can knit up before the Baby V booklet hits their shop. They'll be ready to go. It taught be to keep my ears open because these shop owners know of what they speak.

This is what I learned, in no particular order:
1- On the business side of things - There just might be another way to ship with more success over the border - success being a higher likelihood of everything arriving (once again, one box of product did not make it to the show) and we have tried every way we can think of over the years - another vendor is going to send us info, yay. What a relief it would be if it's a reliable system.
2- People are attracted to an orange sweater but may not be interested in buying orange or knitting orange - we sold all the blue sweater kits first and had 1/2 of the orange ones left when the blue were all gone. Very Interesting.
3- Definitely more interest in small projects. No surprise there.
4- Knitting up samples is still a major problem for store owners, they just don't have time to do it - so if you are interested in knitting samples you might approach your local yarn shop and see what kind of a deal they could give you. They might fall all over you.
5- Baby knitting is still big but there are stores where baby knitting is just not happening. Weird eh? News to me. Are there some baby-free zones in the world?
6- Some stores are closing and letting us know, but several owners were moving to larger stores in the coming year. The knitting industry is in flux as usual but larger stores is encouraging. And there are lots of younger owners. Now that is really encouraging. Knitting is going to continue through these wonderfully innovative young people. Hurrah for women entrepreneurs.
7- The world wide web is not going away. It's still a large topic of conversation. The word is 'adapt, or go the way of the dinosaur'. But I think this is difficult for store owners who are used to giving full service and now have knitters walking in with products they have ordered off the web. Does the store owner want to service patterns off the internet, should they be using the web themselves, will knitters still buy patterns in the store when there is so much free stuff they can download? It's interesting times out there and your local store owner is trying to cope with this huge change in how the public is shopping.

As you can see, lots of discussion takes place between suppliers and store owners, between the vendors themselves who are passing on business tips, ideas and information. We have a network of Canadian business woman from across the country which meet at these shows and our discussions are always lively since we all have a slightly different take on the business - designers/importers/yarn suppliers/pattern suppliers/teachers/bloggers/web sales/manufacturers. Well the list could go on since we all do several of these functions in different combinations. Oh, and we might be imbibing a couple of liquid refreshments to lubricate the discussion and blowing off a lot of steam too.

It's a wonderful world, the knitting biz,

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